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Positive Thinking: My Take on a Successful Season

Following the weekend defeat to Nottingham Forest, some have raised concerns about the way things are going. Obviously the performance on Saturday wasn’t good enough, but it appears that some believe that, in general, the performances and points won haven’t been good enough. The majority disagree with this and believe this season has gone well, which I concur with. Here’s my take on a few negative shouts that I disagree with along with why this season, thus far, has been a success. Now’s your cue to put on your rose tinted spectacles.

Charlton have played poorly at home this season

Wrong to a certain extent. The games against Watford, Barnsley, Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest were all incredibly poor performances, there’s no getting away from that, but in the other fixtures, you could make a case in each and every one of them that the performance, or at least chances created, deserved more. Excellent performances against Blackburn, Huddersfield, Derby (before Morrison’s red card), Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham deserved 15 points instead of the 4 earned in reality whilst bad luck in front of goal and refereeing decisions going against us saw points dropped against Ipswich and Palace. Yes, that’s football; things don’t go your way all of the time, but the point remains: we haven’t played as poorly as is being made out.

Ben Hamer should be dropped

Quite simply, no. The number of games in which Hamer has won us points requires a second hand to count, the number of games in which he’s lost us points doesn’t. Not only that, but he’s kept us in games in which we’ve come away with nothing; it’s no wonder only a handful of games have seen us lose by two or more goals.

Stephens and Pritchard aren’t good enough

Their performances on Saturday were well below what is expected from them, and that’s the point, there is a level of performance that both of them have shown throughout the season that means a lot better is expected. Neither Stephens nor Pritchard is a bad player, the very opposite in fact. Stephens went through a period of poor performances just before the New Year, but since the start of 2013, he’s hardly put a foot wrong. He’s the complete midfielder: excellent in the tackle, keeps things ticking over with his passing, plays the occasional ball to die for and chips in with the odd goal. Criticism of him was completely fair in relation to the Forest game, but to believe him to be not up to scratch in general is a ridiculous overreaction. Similarly with Pritchard, he’s had the a couple of bad games this season, Saturday including, but apart from those he’s one of the most consistent performers which is only helped by his considerable work rate and the fact he has 8 assists this season. Once he gets some confidence in front of goal, I’ll view him as the finished article.

Powell is tactically inept

Wrong. At times he has made mistakes, such as playing Salim Kerkar at left back, or been outdone by his opposite number, Palace away comes to mind, but Powell is far from clueless. The reaction when we win a game proves that, he’s often credited with a large role in the performance. There is no reason for Powell to be doubted.

This season has been a failure

Completely wrong. It’s been a success. If things stay as they are and we keep picking up the occasional few points, we’ll have a mid-table finish in our first season back in the Championship after three seasons away. In addition, the below tables and stats only support the fact we’ve done very well this season.

2012/13 Transfer Spend for Championship Clubs (source: transfermarkt.com)

  1. Blackburn Rovers: £15m
  2. Wolverhampton Wanderers: £13.5m
  3. Cardiff City: £11.5m
  4. Hull City: £7.4m
  5. Nottingham Forest: £5.4m
  6. Leicester City: £5.2m
  7. Bolton Wanderers: £2.8m
  8. Peterborough: £3.3m
  9. Derby County: £3.2m
  10. Huddersfield: £3m
  11. Bristol City: £2.6m
  12. Ipswich Town: £2.5m
  13. Leeds United: £2.1m
  14. Burnley: £2m
  15. Brighton and Hove Albion: £1.9m
  16. Crystal Palace: £1.5m
  17. Sheffield Wednesday: £1.4m
  18. Middlesbrough: £1.1m
  19. Charlton Athletic: £1m
  20. Millwall: £830k
  21. Birmingham City: £280k
  22. Blackpool: £220k
  23. Watford: £0
  24. Barnsley: £0

It’s also important to note that apparent £1,000,000 we’ve spent was on a substitute keeper, David Button, and a player who has been in and out of the first team, Lawrie Wilson. We’ve not had the finance to improve our squad significantly, and with only Cort, Morrison, Fuller, Jackson, Haynes, Hughes and Kermorgant having any significant Championship experience, anything beyond staying up was always going to an achievement. The successes of Norwich and Southampton in the past two seasons have blurred that. Not only were their squads full of players with experience and quality, but they spent £4.5m and £5m respectively. What Charlton have achieved so far with their squad and their financial backing is brilliant.

Number of current internationals (defined by winning a full international cap since January 1st 2012)

  1. Wolverhampton Wanderers: 9
  2. Blackburn Rovers: 7
  3. Cardiff City: 7
  4. Hull City: 7
  5. Bolton Wanderers: 7
  6. Crystal Palace: 7
  7. Birmingham City: 6
  8. Nottingham Forest: 5
  9. Leicester City: 4
  10. Brighton and Hove Albion: 4
  11. Middlesbrough: 4
  12. Burnley: 4
  13. Blackpool: 4
  14. Leeds United: 4
  15. Watford: 4
  16. Derby County: 3
  17. Huddersfield: 3
  18. Bristol City: 2
  19. Sheffield Wednesday: 2
  20. Charlton Athletic: 2
  21. Millwall: 2
  22. Ipswich Town: 1
  23. Peterborough: 0
  24. Barnsley: 0

I could have done a similar stat based on Championship or Premier League appearances for players and similar results would have come up, only Charlton would have probably been 24th, but whatever way you look at it, there is a lack of quality and experience in the squad. That’s not to say the players we have at our disposal are bad, far from it, but they’re playing above expectations (most of the time at least) to match and better their opponents.

Following promotion last season, I too felt that maybe, just maybe, there was a chance of consecutive promotions, but I knew both investment, an improvement in the squad and luck would be needed. We’ve had none of those. Within the first two months of the season it was apparent survival would be a great achievement, and we’re getting there. As a result, if the season continues in a similar manner to which it is now, it’ll be a success.

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